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Introverts Versus Extroverts: How Different Personalities Have Handled The Pandemic


It's hard to believe, but we've been in a lockdown for half a year now. People have had to adjust the way they live entirely - working from home, going out with masks, socializing outdoors instead of at home. And all this change has some people delving into parts of their personality they didn't even know existed. Take John Vezina of Seattle, who identifies as an extrovert.

JOHN VEZINA: I really saw March 16 as this dividing line for me of - I saw someone I was close to. I was talking to people. And the next day, that all stopped.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: For him, the mere idea of going without day-to-day interactions, like the small talk with strangers on his commute or hanging out with neighbors after work, was daunting.

VEZINA: When I realized how isolated I was feeling, I sat down and sent, like, handwritten cards that I mailed to about 80 family and friends.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Vezina told them that he cared about them - that it made a difference during this scary time to know that they were out there somewhere.

VEZINA: What happened, which I hadn't anticipated, was, of course, a lot of those people got back to me, telling me why I was important to them.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But as the weeks went by, he noticed something changing. He made a routine. He started reading more, going on walks, exercising. And now he feels, well, happy.

VEZINA: I'm a person I didn't know existed in March. And I actually really like being by myself.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And he's not the only one. Kay Clark of Ventura, Calif., also used to have a bustling social life.

KAY CLARK: So before the pandemic, I would definitely consider myself an extrovert. My husband and I would be out on the weekends, meeting friends, going out to dinner, going to movies.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But then the fear of COVID-19 transmission cut all of that short. And to her own surprise, she found herself kind of enjoying that time at home.

CLARK: I've had two bread-making phases. I mean, that's how long we've been shut down, where I started making bread. And I got tired of that, and then I went back to bread.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The high school English teacher created structure into her day that made her feel good about working from home. In fact, she says, she gets more one-on-one time with her students now. So when she went on a distanced walk with a friend recently, she didn't feel the same way she used to feel about socializing.

CLARK: I felt like, oh, this is cutting into my normal routine. So it's very curmudgeonly. So I am a little worried about when everything opens up again because I've been in my little world for so long. What will socializing look like again?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Meanwhile, Hudson Pitts of Brooklyn, N.Y., considers himself an introvert. So when the lockdown started...

HUDSON PITTS: I thought that I would be mostly OK for the first part of it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...He was working from home, managing his own schedule, enjoying the time alone. But about four weeks in, he found himself missing hanging out with people.

PITTS: And now much more, like, every time that I do have even a limited in-person connection with someone, it's something that I really just try to savor every minute of.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And once the lockdown ends...

PITTS: I think definitely, one, I'll definitely make much more of a concerted effort to socialize more. You know, I won't just, like, give myself those nights off or those weekends in just because.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And then some have learned not to apologize for their nature. Christine Koegler is a stay-at-home mom in Maryland. With her husband getting busier at work, she found herself alone with their 3-year-old a lot.

CHRISTINE KOEGLER: I realized I was struggling because of my introverted nature.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: She was completely drained in the first few months.

KOEGLER: So I had to change my whole, like, approach to our day and our schedule and not feel guilty for doing things like having a quiet time in the afternoon.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And now she's made peace with being an introvert and a stay-at-home parent.

KOEGLER: Just going through this has really taught me that it is OK to prioritize that alone time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Christine Koegler. We also heard from Hudson Pitts, Kay Clark and John Vezina.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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